Themey Awards (aka: Theme Song Karaoke)

Cameras are flashing. Crowds are cheering. The celebrities have finished parading down the red carpet. Are you ready? It’s time for the Themey Awards!

Yes, that’s a thing. Okay, not a legit thing, exactly. But it should be. With all the buzz over the Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys (and oh yeah, Oscars), I just thought I’d use the momentum to throw in my plug for a new award shoe. One that celebrates some of the most entertaining, memorable music in pop culture.

Theme songs.

I have a huge thing for television show theme songs. Half the time, I never even watch the show. But you’d better believe that when the theme song begins, I am right there in front of the TV, singing along. Theme songs are like the Superbowl™ commercials of the TV world, and they deserve to be awarded. So here we go:

The Theme Song Karaoke Award – Given to the opening theme song that inspires the most people to grab their hairbrush microphones and sing along.

“You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have THE FACTS OF LIFE! THE FACTS OF LIFE!”

Close contender: “Super-powered mind! But can it go canine as it rescues the day from sheer destruction? This is the theme song of Jimmy Neutron!”

jimmy-neutron-boy-genius

Okay, quiet down, everyone. No more singing. Time to move on to category 2.

The Bruised Arm Award – Given to the theme song that results in the most bruised arms, because our co-watchers can’t help but punch us during that one part of the song.

This category resulted in a two-way tie between the theme song from Friends (“So no one told you life was gonna be this way – PUNCHPUNCHPUNCHPUNCH!!!”) and the theme song to Beverly Hills, 90210 (Original cast).

The Top-of-Your-Lungs Award – For the theme song you just can’t sing – you have to belt out at the top of your lungs. And the winner is:

“Are ya ready kids? AYE AYE, CAPTAIN! I can’t heeeaaar you! AYE AYE, CAPTAIN!”

The Gotta-Play-Airdrums Award – Because there isn’t a single person alive who can hear this theme song without jamming along on airdrums, and possibly air guitar, too.

 

The Unexpected Blast-From-the-Past Award goes to a theme song that lots of you either don’t remember or have happily forgotten:

“Believe it or not, I’m walking on air. I never thought I could feel so free-ee-ee!”

(Close contenders included theme songs for The Great Space Coaster, The Patty Duke Show, and Fame).

And finally, we have the OMG, PLEASE GET THAT STUPID EARWORM FROM HELL OUT OF MY HEAD award, bestowed upon the worst of the worst addictive theme songs. First, the runners-up:

  1. “Grab your backpack, let’s go! Jump in! Vamonos! You can lead the wa-ay! Hey hey!”
  2. .”We’re Kids Incorporated! K! I! D! S! Yeah! Kids Incorporated…”
  3. .”I’m just a kid who’s four! Each day I grow some more! I love exploring, I’m Caillou…”

And the winner, by unanimous vote (of one) is:

 

You’re welcome. No, sorry. I really can’t help to remove that earworm. Maybe it only goes away if you find and rescue that poor animal in twouble somewhere.

Anyway, what was your favorite part of the First (and probably last) Annual Themey Awards? I liked that part, too. ¡Adios!

 

 

 

 

Rich Kids Had Disney Channel (aka: I Wanted My MTV)

1980s Television*Old lady voice* Back in the olden days, when boys wore mullets and girls pumped their bangs six inches high, my friends and I were hooked on two amazing new-fangled inventions. No, not the Wheel (very funny, kids). No, not velcro sneakers. More amazing. No, not personal computers…okay, a lot less amazing than that. Give up?

See, back in those days, cable TV is what separated the Haves from the Have-nots. Pretty much everyone watched the same cartoons and sitcoms on network TV, or were maybe lucky enough to subscribe to HBO or Showtime. But at school, we gathered around the rich kids, our envious ears drinking in every morsel of their adventures with the cable channel only rich kids could afford – The Disney Channel. Oh sure, we sang along to Kids Incorporated. But we all knew that it was little more than a shallow imitation of the Mickey Mouse Club.

rich kids Disney channel 80sThen suddenly, thanks to the violent public riots and cries of “I want my MTV!” (Okay, maybe there weren’t any riots. Hard to remember — I was pretty young.) all the not-so-rich schoolkids became hooked on the two best channels ever – Nickelodeon, and his wild-and-crazy big sister, MTV.

At last! At last! We could run home from school and be entertained by green-slime-dumping shows like Double Dare and You Can’t Do That On Television. And…and…okay, that was pretty much it, since in those days, Nickelodeon had super lame shows, like Spartacus and Star Trek the Animated Series. Then at 5:00 each evening, Nick transformed into this kooky black-and-white world of Mr. Ed, The Donna Reed Show, and some show about identical cousins.

So yeah…sadly, those were not Nickelodeon’s best years.

I want my mtvMTV, however, was another story. Back then, MTV lived up to its name. It was all about music, all the time. After school meant the hottest music video countdown with V.J.s like Pauly Shore (Yeah buuuud-dy!), Adam “Amazing Hair” Curry, Julie “Wubba Wubba Wubba” Brown, and the other Julie Brown, who was witness to the great Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun massacre of 1980-something. Our fresh, gold-medal-wearing hip-hop crowd got to jump around the Yo! MTV Raps! And my hard rocker friends and I got to rock out to Headbanger’s Ball. And every New Year’s Eve, without fail, my friends and I would flip on the Top 100 Videos of All Time, even though they always ended with Michael Jackson Thriller.

But now, I don’t think anybody really wants their MTV anymore.

Now don’t take me wrong – I’m not the type to look back on the 80’s and call them The Good Ol’ Days, when everything was better. Honestly, every decade has its share of things excellent and bogus. Just look at Nickelodeon’s glorious conversion during the semi-recent Jimmy Neutron and Spongebob Squarepants era. MTV, however, seems to have lost its soul. Turn it on today, and you’re likely to never see a single music video. Instead, it’s all Teen Mom and True Life reality shows. Will this sad state of affairs lead to another violent uprising led by music-starved fanatics? I only have one response to that.

I don’t know. (Cue bucket of green slime).

* My apologies to you clueless rich kids who were too busy watching Disney Channel in the 80s to get that last reference. Wubba wubba wubba!

Dude, Where’s My Flying Car?

Jetsons car The 2000s were supposed to be the defining moment – the shining boundary that separated the archaic past from the future. Goodbye to the era of The Flinstones; hello to the age of The Jetsons. Well, here we are, in the year 2014, and I have just one question: Where’s my flying car?

They were supposed to be here in the future. The pop culture of my childhood assured us that the future would be like a cross between Back to the Future 2 and The Jetsons. Self-lacing sneakers! Instant food! Suburban neighborhoods in the sky! But alas – even as we approach 2015, we must still bend over to tie the laces of our sneakers, and cooking an edible meal in the microwave still takes an annoying two minutes. Maybe we took a wrong turn and somehow landed in a dystopian future.

Future Technologies We Are Still Waiting For:

Hoverboards

Admit it — you know you’re still waiting for your chance to hop on one of those babies and soar around the neighborhood like Marty McFly. It’s on the bucket list of every Gen Xer. Sadly, other than the Tony Hawk hoverboard hoax, the technology still does not exist.

hoverboard

Still waiting for real-life Hoverboards

 

  1. Flying Cars

Really, I don’t even want to fly one, due to a slight fear of heights. I just want to see the vision brought to life. Just imagine – streams of cars flying through invisible freeways overhead, while down on the ground, the rest of us float along on Hoverboards and miniature, Power Wheels versions of flying cars.

Eyeglass televisions / telephones
Imagine if we were able to watch television and answer the phone and everything using our eyeglasses. That would be so…wait, what? That already exists? Oh yeah – Google Glass!

Google Glass

Google Glass is actually really, really cool tech.

  1. Trips to the Moon

Nope…although millionaires may choose to travel to outer space for a day of anti-gravity kicks, we still can’t hop on a spacecraft and take the family for a casual camping trip on the moon. Too bad. I was looking forward to helping my kids earn a scouting badge for space travel.

 

Robot Servants

Okay, I’m gonna come right out and say it. I’m glad that we don’t have robot servants like Rosie the Robot. Not that it wouldn’t be incredible to have a robot servant. It’s just that Rosie, with her low-tech blinking lights, wheels, and choppy, robotic voice, would be kind of a let-down. I want my future servants to be realistic – like a cross between The Terminator and the androids from I, Robot.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&docid=siOcTKAw9UB6HM&tbnid=2KJgurY8dfl63M:&ved=0CAUQjhw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thepaltrysapien.com%2F2012%2F07%2Fwhere-are-our-robot-servants-and-other-gizmos-asks-david-graeber%2F&ei=9yEXVNeREYO4ogTvnoGABw&bvm=bv.75097201,d.cGU&psig=AFQjCNEmwXWPyLc6txoQAltZZSFM3gPzqw&ust=1410888572333853

It’s actually rather impressive how many future predictions from The Jetsons and Back-to-the-Future have already come to fruition. Just look at the amazing technology we are surrounded by that were no more than science fiction just a couple of decades ago – flat screen televisions on our walls, video conferencing, mobile tablet computers, and 3D movie super-sequels instead of original material (Jaws 19, anyone?). Luckily, there are also a few future predictions that did not come true, such as moving conveyor belts inside our homes (pretty sure that wouldn’t help the obesity epidemic); or houses built on stilts as high as the stratosphere (because I kind of like being able to breathe, and because falling off the front porch could be a real bummer). I’m also really hoping that when the year 2063 actually arrives, our society will not have reverted back to the patriarchal, homogenous culture that apparently still existed in the Jetsons future. In that regard, perhaps we really have arrived in a sort of utopian future. Except for the lack of Hoverboards and flying cars.

Life in Queue (aka: TV Binge Week)

So apparently, this is Hulu Binge Week, when Hulu is encouraging viewers to glue themselves to the sofa and veg out for a few hours with a TV show marathon. Woo-hoo! Another great excuse to slow down and play the couch potato for a while. Well, in theory, anyway. The truth is that I have been bombarded with studying, homework, and school projects, which makes it hard to find the time for marathon-viewing. And anyway, as I tweeted yesterday in honor of #HuluBingeDay:

 

Heehee. Okay, maybe not everything. But thanks to Hulu, Netflix, and too much free time (before classes began), I managed to watch every season and episode of Gray’s Anatomy, Parks and Rec, House of Cards, Scandal, Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Law & Order SVU, some telenovelas, Breaking Bad, and quite a few other shows, not to mention a few dozen excellent films from The Criterion Collection, many of which are available for instant streaming on Hulu. So at the moment, my personal queue is rather lacking. Any suggestions?

Yes, I know how this looks. If I were seeing this from an outsider’s perspective, I would be tempted to say, “Wow, you really should get a life.” My response? Okay, sure…tell me on which website I can download A Life, and I will happily add it to my queue. 😉

 

No Black Brady Bunch (aka: Evolution of Black Family Sitcoms in the 80s)

Diff'rent Strokes sitcom 1978-1986

The only affluent black kids on TV in the early 1980s were the ones rescued from the ghetto by wealthy white people.

Quick! Can you name that black kid from that sitcom around the 70’s and 80’s? No, not the tall skinny ghetto kid who went, “Dy-no-miiiite!” No, not the short, black kid adopted by the rich white family, who always said, “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” No, not the other short, black kid adopted by a white family, either. Come on – who was the good-looking black teen boy from the nice, intact family who lived in an affluent neighborhood? Still don’t know?

Silver Spoons mansion

White kids on TV sitcoms in the early 80s were often privileged and affluent.

It is far easier to name white, affluent teens from the same era of television: Mike Seaver, from Growing Pains; Alex Keaton from Family Ties; Ricky Stratton from Silver Spoons; and, of course, all six Brady kids. Like many black kids across the USA, I grew up watching shows such as these, starring these happy, smiling white families with clean, sparkly homes. Their almost-perfect lives were only occasionally marred by white people problems such as teen pimples, first boyfriends, and naughty little sisters who steal your favorite sweater. By the end of each episode, their problems were wrapped up in some simple, cheesy, happily-ever-after way.

In contrast, most of the kids in the predominantly Black television shows lived in run-down homes in the ghetto. Well, with the exception of Webster, and Willis and Arnold, who were rescued from ghetto life by kind, wealthy white folks (Whatcu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?). Black kids from these shows didn’t care about pimples – they were often too busy trying to help their parents find a way to make the rent that month. The themes were heavy by comparison, as black characters dealt with topics such as venereal diseases, sexual abuse, and wrongful accusations of shoplifting. By the end of each episode, these problems were both solved and unsolved, often leaving deep questions hanging in the air for the viewer to ponder.

And I don’t know – maybe I even learned something about social justice and black culture by watching those predominantly black shows. But mostly, I remember feeling a sense of shame, even at a very young age, that the people on the screen who looked the most like me came from such dreadful circumstances. Where was the Black Brady Bunch, with happy smiling kids and nice, educated parents who helped them solve their problems?

The Huxtables

The Cosby Show was like a breath of fresh air for black and white families alike.

Well thank goodness, when I was nine years old, Bill Cosby changed America’s perception of the Black TV sitcom family. At last, we had a family to represent us on-screen who neither lived in the ghetto, nor was “movin’ on up” out of a ghetto. The Huxtables were a respectable and affluent black family with five children. The mother, Clair, was a hard-working and successful lawyer, while the father, Cliff, was an obstetrician with his own private practice.  The Cosby Show dealt with both the lighthearted and the more serious issues of family life with intelligence, sensitivity, and humor. Not only Black families crowded around their televisions to tune in, as it quickly became the most successful television sitcom of the 1980’s.

Rosanne Family

After the Cosby Show’s wild success, new sitcom families, such as the Conners from Roseanne, began to represent a wider variety of American families

The Cosby Show signified a change in American family sitcoms. Not only was there a wider variety of shows featuring black families, but there was also an increase in the number of blue-collar, not-so-sparkly white family shows, such as Roseanne, which became the number one sitcom in the country from 1989 to 1990, and dealt with heavier topics than most white family sitcoms had tackled in the past. Just as many Black families cheered with the arrival of the The Cosby Show, many white families also cheered at the arrival of a family who perhaps better represented them, too. At last, American television  was veering away from the archetypes that had ruled the airwaves for so many years, and opening the door to diverse families and new ideas. And to that, I just have say, “Dy-no-miiite!”

(How’s that for a cheesy ending?)

Bewitched, Possessed, Transformed (aka My Deep, Dark, Secret)

Come in and get comfortable on the couch. I hope you don’t mind if I turn out the lights. It’s better that way. Are you ready? Okay, let’s turn on the TV. Well of course I meant that we are watching TV. What did you think we were going to do? Now pass the popcorn, and no more talking. It’s time for The Vampire Diaries.

It’s true. I admit it. I am hooked on deep, dark, disturbing supernatural TV shows. It started with a goal to watch every single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then it spread to the Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle on Hulu. And yes, okay, I was also quite a fan of Harry Potter, and far worse, Twilight. Witches and vampires and werewolves are like a bad drug…they make me shiver and give me bad dreams, but I can’t resist coming back for more.

Of course, this is not as bad as the slasher movie phase I went through as a teen, gorging myself on such quality films as the Nightmare on Elm Street saga, Maximum Overdrive, The Stuff, and Sleepaway Camp. Ohmygod, Sleepaway Camp was so baaaad. Ugh! Almost as awful as The Stuff. No wonder they call those horror movies. Oh, the horror!

Now I could turn this into an educational post by exploring why, in our culture, people are so into scary stories. You know…feeling empowered when the protagonist manages to overcome the antagonist, etc. But nah…I just watch them because sometimes, it is fun to feel scared, especially when you know that nothing bad will actually happen. Like riding a roller coaster, or playing a real-time strategy computer war game. (What’s that? My inner geek is showing? Oops…).

Scary show. Hot guys. And possibly the most intriguing love triangle on TV right now.

I’m pretty sure that my love for scary themes began in childhood. As I mentioned in a previous post, my innocent childhood was pretty much warped by early exposure to Stephen King, and other frightening horror movies. I’m pretty sure I was the only 7-yr. old in my school who had seen Poltergeist, The Omen, and Carrie. Those poor kids had no idea what an antichrist was until I happily educated them. At the moment, I am educating my own kids (ages 7, 10, and 12) about the joys of scary shows. I tried to start with the classics, showing them “Talking Tina,” one of my favorite all-time episodes of The Twilight Zone. I thought it was awesome. My daughter, however, henceforth refused to sleep in the same room as her American Girl Doll.

“It’s like she’s turning her head to look at me in the night,” my daughter complained.

Okay, fine. I guess my kids are a little too sheltered to appreciate the thrill of the supernatural. I guess that means I won’t be able to convince any of them to join me when the Hunger Games movie comes out next week. I know, right? Who wouldn’t love to see a film about a bunch of teens slaughtering each other in an arena in order to win food to feed their families? It’s kind of sweet, when you think about it. Anyway, my kids would have me take them to see The Lorax. Great. Now maybe that would sound interesting if the Lorax and the Bar-ba-loots waged war and chopped up the Once-Ler’s factory with his own Super-Axe-Hacker…(What’s that? My inner warped-personality-due-to-inappropriately-early-horror-film-exposure is showing? Oops…)

"Come children, into the liiight! There is peace and serenity in the liiiight!" (I still hear Tangina's voice in my nightmares).